Foreign Body Rejection and Hernia Mesh

Implantable medical devices should not provoke an immune foreign body rejection response; however, many patients have suffered this complication, leading them to file claims in the hernia mesh lawsuit. Hernias most frequently occur in the abdomen or groin areas, and may develop after a surgical procedure or when constant pressure weakens the muscles in those areas over time. For many years, hernia mesh has been used to surgically repair hernias. Unfortunately, many of the mesh products on the market today are causing serious complications for patients, many of whom require additional surgeries to correct the damage. 

A nurse holding a patient's hand
Foreign body rejection can occur in hernia mesh patients when the immune system attacks the implanted product.

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to receive consumer complaints, and mesh manufacturers, such as Atrium and Ethicon, continue to produce and market these dangerous medical devices, attorneys from our nationwide legal network are assisting numerous victims with their claims in the hernia mesh lawsuit. If you or someone you love has suffered serious complications after receiving a hernia mesh product, please contact our legal team to schedule a free case evaluation.

What is Foreign Body Rejection?

Our immune systems fight off harmful substances as they enter our bodies. People who are allergic to cats, for example, may experience sneezing, itching, and watery eyes after petting a cat. The immune system recognizes those harmful substances and produces an immune response. Foreign body rejection, or FBR, works in a similar way.

When a foreign object is placed in the body, the immune system recognizes it as not only foreign, but possibly harmful. Because the foreign object remains, the immune system continues to produce an immune response. As a result, white blood cells begin to attack the object, causing complications such as adhesions, infections, mesh shrinkage, and bowel obstructions.


When biocompatible materials are introduced to the body, the immune system may produce an initial inflammatory response that involves swelling, bruising, pain, or tenderness, which usually subsides within a few days. Mesh products are not truly biocompatible, as many contain polypropylene. This can cause the immune response to persist, and many patients will experience symptoms, including:

  • Pain near the location of the hernia mesh
  • Swelling at the site of the mesh
  • Fever and chills
  • Surgical wounds that do not heal

Because the immune system is continually trying to attack this foreign body, the mesh and surrounding tissues can become weakened. As both continue to deteriorate, chronic infections often plague patients with hernia mesh implants.

Chronic Infections

As the hernia mesh deteriorates, it leaves the patient more susceptible to infections. Hernia mesh is tightly woven, sometimes smaller than a window screen, and all those pockets become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This tightly woven material makes it difficult for the immune system to penetrate and fight off the bacteria, so patients suffer from chronic infections and illnesses.

Patients are then subjected to ongoing treatments with antibiotics, which have their own set of problems. Unfortunately, these chronic infections can lead to the development of autoimmune diseases. These conditions are the result of the immune system’s inability to differentiate between the body’s own cells and foreign bodies. While certain genetic and environmental factors may predispose certain patients to develop an autoimmune disease, the chronic inflammatory response to a foreign body can exacerbate the condition.  

Some common autoimmune diseases include:

  • Lupus
  • Hashimoto’s
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Celiac disease

Treatment for Foreign Body Rejection

Unfortunately, the only treatment option for foreign body rejection is to attempt to remove the hernia mesh. However, doing so often results in the need for a replacement mesh, which can lead to additional complications. If the foreign body rejection has caused the development of an autoimmune disease, patients must also receive treatments to manage their symptoms, as most of these conditions are incurable. 

Hernia Mesh and Foreign Body Rejection Statistics

  • Millions of Americans suffer from hernias each year, and hundreds of thousands are repaired with hernia mesh.
  • Certain hernia mesh products, such as the Ethicon Physiomesh®, have noticeably higher rates of hernia recurrence, which require additional procedures.
  • A 2016 study showed that just two years after mesh implantation, more than 30 percent of patients experienced complications.
  • In a 2015 study, researchers found that 10 percent of patients suffered from hernia mesh infections. Patients who had pre-operative infections were at an even greater risk of suffering a mesh infection.

Get the Help You Need

Because it can take months or years for the symptoms and effects of foreign body rejection to become truly apparent, it can be more difficult to trace the problem back to the hernia mesh product. Victims now struggling with life-altering diseases and other complications are taking legal action against the negligent hernia mesh manufacturers. If you or someone you love has suffered serious complications that you suspect is related to the placement of hernia mesh, you need an experienced legal team on your side. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation with an attorney from our legal network. 

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